Lately I’ve been reflecting on Levi’s birth story and the gospel. Funny how pain drives us to our knees; figuratively speaking and literally. It has been my experience that the hard things of life uniquely shine light into dark areas otherwise left untouched. The more excruciating the pain, the clearer the gospel comes into focus and our desperate need therein. On my knees up against the hospital bed, 20 hours in, I can remember crying out to my husband, Bailey, “Talk about Jesus again. Tell me about the gospel.” It was the only thing that made sense in my mind, broken with pain. Every second passed felt like a second frozen in time. Even though he was my third child to birth, the pain was unimaginably raw, tremendous, excruciating. And yet, as so often is the case, it is in those painful moments, hours, days or whatever amount of time the Lord has allotted, that his glory is so clearly revealed, resonating inside of our souls. It is in the hour of desperate need that we are often viscerally confronted, comforted by the gospel. I remember clutching my wooden cross as an especially long contraction began to swell. I was walking the halls with my dear Mom and precious Mother in law- both women, his hands and feet materialized. As my abdomen began to tighten beyond what I felt I could bear, I stopped and asked them to pray with me. I started to ask God to take the pain away, to stop this madness when I remembered the words of my wise husband. Earlier as we walked into the hospital unsettling the morning dew, he had taken the quiet moment to impart courage and prepare me for the hours ahead. He charged me to be intentional and specific in my prayers to the Lord. To pray for relief but more importantly to pray that I would suffer well and glorify God in my anguish. So, right there in the hallway, a stone’s throw from the nurses station, as my mind started to slip into the blinding reality of pain, those words came back to me and took root, grounding my mind. I began to pray that my suffering would point others to the Lord, that my tears would bring glory to his name, that this ushering in of life would point others to the one who ushers in and offers spiritual life to all mankind. I had always thought the saying “peace that passes understanding” to be overused and trite and yet in that moment, those words are exactly what I would use to describe the calm that settled down on me, around me. The peace and love of the Lord sifted through my soul physically warming my body. I felt the presence of God in a way that I don’t know that I have ever felt before or since. They say that when you get married and then again when you parent children, you experience the gospel in a more personal way, that you get a hands on glimpse into eternity. I would submit to you, as would scripture that birth is another one of those pictures that point us to Christ. The affliction and wonder of birth certainly offered me perspective into the eternal beauty and mystery that is Jesus, the cross, and his glorious resurrection. You see, labor is an affliction. It is a curse, a result of sin, original sin wrought by Eve. And yet it is also a wondrous thing, it is the beginning of a new precious life. The days my sons were born are simultaneously the worst and best days of my life. The day that Jesus died was simultaneously the worst day and best day of history. Worst because the sin of mankind culminated in the murder of the God-Man himself and best because this same man sacrificed himself for the very ones that nailed him to that cross. He sacrificed himself for you, for me.
I did not suffer well every frozen second of the 26 hours. But there were those blessed moments, almost portals that transcended time, transcended the numbing pain. I will never forget those glimpses of glory and will always treasure this palpable perspective that the Lord has gifted me, established in my heart. Just as I painfully suffered so as to bring one life into the world, on a much grander scale Jesus perfectly suffered the brutality of the cross so as to bring many to life. But make no mistake, his savage death is not the culmination of his suffering or the cause of his bloody sweat spent at Gethsemane. What is more jarring than any torment by man is the wrath of the Lord God poured out on him in retribution over the sin of mankind. Jesus took the destruction that we deserved and tasted bitter death. It was in this hideous suffering that far surpassed my guttural screams, that birthed many sons to glory, that lit up the entire universe. Six months later, I look into the light that is my son’s eyes and I remember. I remember the pain, the brokenness, but more importantly I remember the light that is God’s glory.